On 12 December 2022, Susie Jackson gave a workshop for SENSE on pricing and negotiating with confidence. During this online event, participants learnt what to consider and avoid when pricing their services and how to negotiate with clients who can’t afford to pay one’s rate.
We’re really excited about Susie sharing her knowledge and experience on this topic with us and hope it will help participants feel more confident about pricing their services going forward.
Below, Susie tells us more about her work and her workshop.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a language professional?
I started freelancing as a translator and copy editor in 2015 alongside a full-time job as a university administrator. I had done a degree in Spanish and Portuguese but hadn’t found a way to use my languages as part of my career up to that point, so I was happy to have a linguistic outlet in my spare time. After about six months of working in that way, I decided I was really enjoying my freelance work and decided to take that full time. Over the years, I have specialized in academic translation and copy editing for the social sciences, and I now work almost exclusively with academic clients. Most of my work now comes via word of mouth.
How did you get into mentoring other freelancers?
In 2019, after I’d been freelancing full time for over 3 years, I felt there was something missing from my work life – I really missed the human connection I had previously got from my job. I started to think about how I might like to spend my time if I only had a few months to live (morbid I know, but it was inspired by a story in a TV programme I was watching at the time!). The conclusion I came to was that I would want to spend it sharing my knowledge and skills with as many people as possible. That was when I started mentoring other freelancers on finances and pricing, initially on a pro-bono basis, and I’ve combined the two parts of my business ever since.
What are some common issues freelancers run into when it comes to pricing and negotiating with confidence?
The most common problem I see among freelancers is a sense of not really knowing what to charge and therefore plucking numbers out of the air. Many freelancers (particularly those who work with words!) believe they are inherently bad with numbers, which leads to them avoiding even looking at their finances. I am a firm believer that familiarity breeds confidence, so the first step to gaining confidence with your finances is to become familiar with what they look like for you. Another really common problem is the anxiety that so many freelancers feel when they think about having to discuss money, and that can have a real impact on the quotations they send or even the way they market their business. I’ve come across people who are so afraid of having to discuss the money side of things with new clients that they prefer to continue working with their existing (often low-paying) clients rather than seek out better-paying ones. And that also means it can be really hard to discuss raising their prices too.